It was a mysterious phenomenon slowly becoming buried in conspiracy cries and stale reruns.
Neither the fans, or the players, or even the president of the United States, could quite understand it.
533 straight losses.
To the 2008 Detroit Lions, who lost 16 straight games: Quit your whining.
To the Charlotte Bobcats, who lost 23 straight games to end the 2011-12 season: It could be worse…
Up until last Wednesday, Teddy had lost all 533 President’s Races.
For those who haven’t heard, the President’s Race, featured at every Washington Nationals home game in the fourth inning, is a race between four famous presidents – George “George” Washington, Thomas “Tom” Jefferson, Abraham “Abe” Jefferson, and Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt – dressed in 10-ft foam costumes.
Entertaining to drunk baseball fans? You bet.
But the promotional event slowly evolved into one that drew almost as much interest as the Nationals’ baseball home games themselves.
All the Presidents, except Teddy, were winning.
At first, Teddy’s losses were blamed on his lack of speed, or inability to balance himself inside the heavy, unevenly distributed costume.
Then Teddy started losing, even when it seemed like wins were so close he could literally touch the finish line tape.
In a race on June 28, 2008, Teddy was primed for victory when Orioles mascot, “The Bird”, stepped in in the waning moments to tackle him short of the finish line and his first win.
On June 4, 2012, in a SportsNation special “President’s Race”, Teddy built a sizeable lead over the other Presidents, but stopped short of the finish line to celebrate. In the middle of the celebration, George rode by on a van, clubbed Teddy with a baseball bat, and rolled into another victory.
Teddy who used a motor scooter on July 26, 2009 to finish in first place, was disqualified in that race for gaining an advantage.
Meanwhile the losses for Teddy, typical and bizarre alike, were mounting.
Like Teddy, the Nationals, the “Clippers” of baseball, kept losing. Going back to their Montreal Expos days, the Washington Nationals hadn’t made the playoffs since 1933.
2012 though proved to be different. An upstart Nationals team won 98 games, the division and the best record in baseball.
Like the Nationals, Teddy too turned it around. On the last day of the 2012 regular season, Teddy won his first race. The Phillies Mascot, “Phillie Phanatic”, tackled the other three presidents, as Teddy secured his first victory to the standing ovation of the crowd.
Also, the next Nationals hitter after Teddy won hit a home run.
But did Teddy’s losing streak end then?
Was it a symbolic feat of the Nationals’ turnaround as a franchise? The start of something new?
Was it the sign of something greater to come?
That “greater” though will need to come right now as the Nationals face a 2-1 deficit to the Cardinals, and elimination tomorrow.
Like Teddy, who’s now 1-533, the Nationals are heading in the right direction, even if loss 534 is just around the corner.